Myanmar Opening New Hotels on Mergui

Myanmar, now considering legislation to legalize casinos in the country, is working to transform part of the Mergui archipelago into an eco-tourism destination. Foreigners-only casinos could legally open in luxury hotels.

Two joint ventures approved

Last fall, Myanmar revised a gaming law that would bring foreigner-only casinos to luxury hotels near border crossings. One possible location is the Mergui islands. According to the Bangkok Post, two joint ventures have been granted approval to build several resorts on the islands.

“Most of the islands are untouched and have coral reefs,” Sai Kyaw Ohn, deputy minister for hotels and tourism, told the Post. “We hope these can attract eco-tourists and divers.”

Gamblers may also be a target demographic, according to a 2014 account by Last October, the government approved a revised casino law that would allow the development of casinos in luxury hotels and also establish legal, regulated lotteries.

Up to 70 percent of Myanmar’s adult population has participated in some form of illegal gambling, according to estimates. Last year, fewer than 2,650 tourists visited the islands, according to data from the ministry of hotel and tourism. The government hopes implementing a 2013 tourism master plan would help attract 7 million tourists by 2020.